Brave New Worlds
Over the past few months, I’ve written a half-dozen columns examining the ethics and rationale behind a variety of space initiatives. But there’s one central question that I have yet to tackle: Why should we care about space exploration in the first place?
Some space enthusiasts choose to ignore this question altogether. If you ask them why you ought to care about space, they might look at you like you’re crazy — “Well, why wouldn’t you? Are you, like, against science or something?” But when billions of taxpayer dollars are going into space-related research every year, and the benefit to the public is not always evident, the “why” question needs to be addressed.
Is humanity prepared for an extinction-level event?
No, I’m not referring to the coronavirus. As devastating as this current pandemic is, it doesn’t pose an existential threat to humanity. But imagine a deadlier virus were to emerge — one with a 100% fatality rate. Or an asteroid impact? Or a nuclear holocaust? Is our species prepared?